Below is a step-by-step guide on how you can start your journey with essential oils. I find them fascinating and I’m sure by the time you complete these steps you will find likewise:
Essential Oils 101
Aromatic plant oils that are used during aromatherapy are known as essential oils. The name itself is a contraction of ‘quintessential oil’. As the pure essence of a plant, essential oils are naturally extracted and distilled with either water or steam; by mechanical processing of citrus rinds or by dry distillation of natural materials. After distillation, the oil is then separated physically from its water base.
As defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), in their Vocabulary of Natural Materials, a true essential oil is defined as an oil that had only been extracted through physical means – such as distillation, or expression, also known as cold pressing, a method that’s specific to a minority of essential oil plants.
While there are over 90 types of oils listed on the Essential Oil Profiles, Absolutes, CO2s and Hydrosols are also commonly listed under aromatherapy, even though they are distilled via different methods. As essential oils are highly concentrated in their pure form, they are often mixed with a carrier oil in order to dilute them and make it safe for application directly onto the skin. Direct contact with concentrated essential oils may cause an allergic reaction or skin irritation.
Essential Oil Uses
Essential oils can be blended to achieve different healing and therapeutic effects, such as an overall improvement in mood and general sense of well-being. This is especially so during a therapeutic massage, where blood and circulation is improved. word-cloud-8-31-11Depending on the results you are seeking, using different kinds of essential oils can either constrict or dilate blood vessels, and can help to either raise or lower blood pressure.
When inhaled, aromatherapy stimulates receptors in the nasal passage, which communicates with the limbic system through the nervous system. The limbic system controls emotions, which is why aromatherapy can be a natural way of alleviating anxiety and depression.
Aromatherapy can also help to balance hormone production by the endocrine system. One example is clary sage, which is an essential oil that can mimic estrogen. Some essential oils can also make the immune system stronger by helping to kill viruses, bacteria and fungal infections. It’s also a useful way of reducing pain, either for someone experiencing chronic pain, or when a person is going through a particularly painful treatment. This helps to improve the overall quality of life, especially for those with chronic health conditions.
Day to day functioning can be improved as well, for example, by helping a person sleep better and deeper, or improving digestion. Studies of lavender oil have shown that it can help to improve sleep for hospitalized patients, reduce pain for children undergoing tonsillectomy procedures, as well as helping to reduce pain for dialysis patients.
There is literally unlimited potential in essential oil uses! And you can see here exactly how much the topic of essential oils is trending:
Essential Oil Quality
When buying essential oils, quality matters significantly. Purchasing essential oils from non-reputable sources often means you will sacrifice quality and even their therapeutic benefits. Improperly handled or adulterated essential oils (those that have other oils or chemicals added to them) can have adverse or harmful effects. Here are some tips to keep in mind when buying quality essential oils:
Avoid products labeled “fragrance oil” or “perfume oil” etc. These terms suggest that the oil is adulterated and is not the pure essential oil you are looking for.
Beware of any dust on the bottles which suggests a lack of freshness. Essential oils can oxidize and lose their therapeutic properties if left out too long.
Only purchase essential oils that are bottled in dark colored glass. Plastic or clear glass will cause the essential oils to deteriorate faster.
Essential Oil Safety
A quick message on safety. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) states that:
- Essential Oils are not to be taken internally
- Essential Oils are recommended to be diluted
- Essential oils are extremely flammable. Avoid any hazards by keeping your oils far away from anything that could ignite them.
Popular Essential Oils
- Eucalyptus Oil – Eucalyptus is well known for its benefits to the respiratory system. It’s used in many different products, and the reason is because eucalyptus is such a potent anti-inflammatory, decongestant and antiseptic.
- Peppermint Oil – Peppermint is known as Mentha xpiperita and has special pain relief and anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Tea Tree Oil – If you suffer from the sniffles, the intense sneezing and everything else that goes with allergy season then you certainly want to keep some tea tree oil on hand. Tea Tree is one of the miracle essential oils. It is an antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, balsamic, cicatrisant, expectorant, insecticide and fungicide.
- Lavender Oil – If there is one essential oil that needs to be in every home it is lavender. This is a sweet floral scent that offers a deep relaxing and refreshing scent that puts you in a peaceful mood. Lavender is the most versatile of all essential oils and is a very effective de-stressor and mood balancer.
Best Essential Oil Diffusers
Diffusion is one of the modes of application of aromatherapy. There are many different types of essential oil diffusers (ultrasonic, nebulizers, evaporative, heat, fan, candles, steam (vaporizers), reeds) that help to disperse the essential oils into the air you breathe.
But what is the best essential oil diffuser? This of course depends on the price, where and what you are using them for. If you are looking for an oil diffuser I have written an essential oil diffusers review and buyers guide.
Essential Oil Starter Kits
Often the best way to start with essential oils is to buy an essential oil starter kit. The major brands offer a variety of starter kits that make it easy and affordable to learn about essential oils. They have product samples to immerse yourself in the fun and knowledge of essential oils.